trū Shrimp announces Harbor facility in Madison

Plans to build first-of-its-kind shrimp facility

The trū Shrimp Company, a pioneer in healthy, innovative and sustainable shrimp aquaculture, today announced that it is planning to build its first shrimp production facility, a Harbor, in Madison, South Dakota. trū Shrimp’s advanced technology is designed to raise shrimp in a near natural and disease-free environment. Construction is expected to break ground this summer in Madison’s Lakeview Industrial Park, with the exact timeline pending the completion of permitting and financing.

tru Shrimp President & CEO Michael Ziebell said the new facility will be named Madison Bay Harbor.

“We are excited to be working with the City of Madison and the Lake Area Improvement Corporation in bringing safe and sustainable shrimp to the US consumer,” said Michael Ziebell, trū Shrimp’s president and CEO.

“Though we’re headquartered in Minnesota, trū Shrimp is truly a Midwest company. Building our first Harbor in Madison reaffirms our commitment to the broader region.”

“South Dakota is pleased to welcome its newest corporate citizen, trū Shrimp, to Madison,” said South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard. “The growing aquaculture industry, led by trū Shrimp, is not only a great fit for Madison, but also a natural fit for our state’s agricultural heritage.”

“trū Shrimp is going to be an excellent addition to Madison,” said Mike Malone, president of the Lake Area Improvement Corporation. “They are an outstanding company with Midwestern values and an environmental focus. We are excited to bring this opportunity to the region.”

trū Shrimp’s planned facility will be located in the southern most portion of the Lakeview Industrial Park in Madison.

trū Shrimp’s innovative technology changes the way shrimp are raised, free of chemicals and antibiotics. The company calls its facilities “Harbors” to reflect these new processes and says this new approach will revolutionize the way seafood companies meet the demands of their customers. trū Shrimp’s processes enable shrimp to grow in shallow water that is cleaned and reused.

trū Shrimp previously identified Luverne, Minnesota as the site for its first Harbor. However, there are open items related to the Luverne site that need to be addressed before trū Shrimp can proceed.

“It is a matter of timing;” added Ziebell, “our timeline for capital financing and construction in 2019 does not allow adequate time to resolve the items in Luverne. Locating the first Harbor in Madison not only meets the critical components of our business model, but our timeline as well.”

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About trū Shrimp

trū Shrimp is focused on sustaining a growing global population with healthy, clean shrimp. They believe it is their social responsibility to exceed food safety standards, while limiting their environmental impact.

trū Shrimp is the solution consumers have long desired. From patented technology created by Texas A&M University, they’ve developed a breakthrough approach to raise shrimp in the healthiest, safest and most efficient way possible.

Their approach provides a consistent and traceable supply of shrimp to sustain the world’s growing demand. Shrimp also benefit from trū Shrimp’s advanced technology that recreates a natural environment, resulting in minimal stress. Their pioneering technology creates an efficient, predictable and sustainable source of shrimp.

They are committed to creating sustainable approaches for the world. When designing trū Shrimp, processes were optimized to minimize the impact on the environment. Through advanced water management technology and recycling methods, trū Shrimp is reducing water usage, waste byproducts and their carbon footprint at every turn.

For more information please contact

Prairie AquaTech to expand; building new plant in Volga

‘Village’ mindset key to moving on $60 million project

By John Kubal / Brookings Register / Originally published April 25, 2018 / Reprinted with permission


Prairie AquaTech, a successful start-up business founded in Brookings in 2012 will be building in Volga about 5 miles west of Brookings and next to one of its several vital “village” partners: South Dakota Soybean Processors.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard gave the keynote address at Prairie AquaTech’s Groundbreaking Ceremony May 1. Photo Gallery

Other partners vital to the $60 million project and its continued success include South Dakota State University and the Brookings Economic Development Corporation.

“For projects of this magnitude, it really takes a village to make it happen,” said Mark Luecke, managing director and CEO of Prairie AquaTech, which makes a protein-rich ingredient used in fish feed.

He noted that the company’s products came about out of research at South Dakota State University College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.

Luecke calls Prairie AquaTech “a very unique facility” that uses “large fermentation tanks where we’ve taken the work that SDSU did in small, little flasks and we’ve now scaled it up to these big fermentation tanks.”

“Essentially what we’re doing,” he explained, “is fermenting soybean meal. We buy soybean meal from South Dakota Soybean Processors in Volga. They have a plant down in Miller that produces non-genetically modified meal.

“We ferment that. And on site, we also have a small feed mill. That allows us to take our ingredients and mix them with other ingredients and pelletize that into a fish feed.” That feed, while not the finished product it produces, can then be used to test AquaTech’s protein-rich ingredient to ensure its compatability as a vital component of a final fish-feed product.

Luecke called the BEDC “an incredible partner for us. They’re part of our village. There’s no better place than Brookings, South Dakota, to start a business.” He worked closely with BEDC Executive Director Al Heuton on the start-up project that became Prairie AquaTech.

The BEDC wrote a grant to the U.S. Economic Development Administration. That grant provided funding support for the ag tech center as a pilot facility on the east side of town south of Daktronics.

“The grant from the EDA was $1 million,” Luecke explained.  BEDC with other community EDCs came up with a match of $1 million. That $2 million provided for building a pilot facility, which is owned by the BEDC. “It remains an asset for the community and we lease the building from them.”

Time to expand

Luecke noted that the need for a larger plant had been on the radar for some time. The new 300,000 square-foot, $60 million ($45 million for construction; $10 million for operating capital; and $5 million for continued development of new products) facility at Volga will add 35 employees to the current staff of 30 people. The factory will be able to produce annually about 30,000 tons of a major protein component that will go into pellets that also contain vitamins, minerals and oils. The pellets then go to fish farms.

The fermentation process at the present AquaTech plant is done in several 2,000-gallon tanks. The tanks at the new plant will be done in 40,000-gallon tanks. That will drive a big demand for soybean meal from SDSP, which Luecke said produced about 700,000 tons on an annual basis.

“We’ll buy about 50,000 tons to get started,” he said. “We’ll be a good customer of theirs.”

Groundbreaking for the new facility took place Tuesday, May 1. Luecke said the plant is expected to be operational in 12 months.

“This groundbreaking represents a significant milestone for our company and for the development of new value-added agriculture businesses in South Dakota,” Luecke said in a news release. “We’re helping farmers by adding value to soybeans produced in the region. The new plant is also evidence of the successful commercialization of research coming out of SDSU.”

Global impact

While Prairie Aquatech’s presence will be visible in South Dakota, Luecke sees its products impacting a global demand at a time when the world’s oceans have been over-fished.

“We’re trying to satisfy the world’s demand for animal protein,” he said. “Aqua culture, or fish farming has been done for centuries. What’s happened is its sophistication as a business has improved dramatically over the past 20 years.”

He explained that the most efficient way to convert plant protein to animal protein is in fish: 1.5 pounds of plant feed can produce 1 pound of fish protein. For a cow that ratio is about 8 pounds of plant food to produce 1 pound of beef protein.

“We are an ag state, so we know how to raise livestock,” Luecke said. “And fish is just another form of livestock.” And AquaTech will help feed those finned livestock.

He noted primary markets for fish feed are “where higher-quality fish are currently being raised,” such as in the Snake River Valley in Idaho, which accounts for “50 percent of U.S. trout production. And trout is an important species to us, so that will be an important market.”

He also cited Canada, which “has four times the amount of salmon and trout production that the U.S. does.”

Looking ahead to the expansion of Prairie AquaTech, Luecke again stressed the role of the company’s village-partners.

“We’re grateful to be in a community like Brookings where you have SDSU as a willing partner in commercializing research,” he said, adding, “and a community development organization – BEDC – which is willing to take some risks to make sure that we have a good entrepreneurial community in Brookings. They helped us build the pilot project that we presently use.”

Concluding, he cited “a willing partner in SDSP in Volga, where we can actually take university research, scale it up and spin out an operating business into one of our surrounding communities in Brookings County and have that community flourish.”

Luecke also expressed his appreciation to South Dakota’s congressional delegation in Washington, Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds, and Rep. Kristi Noem, for their support.

Contact John Kubal at


Featured image: Mark Luecke, managing director and CEO, shows off a couple of the 2,000-gallon fermentation tanks at the present Prairie AquaTech plant in Brookings. The fermentation tanks in the new plant in Volga will each have a 40,000-gallon capacity. Photo courtesy The Brookings Register

Prairie AquaTech breaks ground in Volga

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